Yes, you read that right. I'll also mention that when the character is made, it'll be 7th level, so the levels of Bard and Barbarian will be split. She likes the idea of raging to greatly increase her effectiveness in combat, but also likes the performance system in Pathfinder, so I'm trying to make it work. Now, I know that raging as a barbarian makes Charisma, Dexterity, and Intelligence based skills unusable (except Acrobatics, Fly, Intimidate, and Ride), so that rules out Performance checks because they are Charisma based. I was looking through the wording though and it looks like some of the Bardic Performances and some of them don't seem to require a check. For example: Inspire Courage reads...

A 1st level bard can use his performance to inspire courage in his allies (including himself), bolstering them against fear and improving their combat abilities. To be affected, an ally must be able to perceive the bard’s performance. An affected ally receives a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 competence bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. At 5th level, and every six bard levels thereafter, this bonus increases by +1, to a maximum of +4 at 17th level. Inspire courage is a mind-affecting ability. inspire courage can use audible or visual components. The bard must choose which component to use when starting his performance.

Nowhere in that text is a Perform check required and the only condition to continue a Bardic Performance is a free action, so this should be possible right? A few performances do either require the Perform check (Countersong for example), and others conflict with the concept of Rage (Fascinate requires no Perform check, but also doesn't work in combat, which a Barbarian should DEFINITELY be doing if they are raging). I'm fairly new myself, so I'm not quite sure of a lot of nuances to this, like whether you can make Perform checks while brandishing a Greatsword, if this particular class combination would work, and if it did, what combination of levels should be used. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Only if she is performing Death Metal... \$\endgroup\$ May 18, 2016 at 3:56

4 Answers 4


A barbarian/bard can, while in a rage, start and continue a bardic performancemaybe

The bard's bardic performances say nothing about concentrating and only a handful mandate Perform skill checks (countersong, distraction, et al.), making the others possibly usable while in a rage. However, performances do require using some kind of action to start and, often, to maintain. So while it's totally legit to get really angry and, for example, climb a mountain or swim a channel, because bardic performances use actions, starting or maintaining them while in a rage might run afoul of this part of the rage description:

While in rage, a barbarian cannot use any Charisma-, Dexterity-, or Intelligence-based skills (except Acrobatics, Fly, Intimidate, and Ride) or any ability that requires patience or concentration.

Emphasis mine. So while the barbarian's rage itself doesn't explicitly forbid, for example, massive shredding on your lute or belting out "99 Bottles of Dwarven Ale on the Wall" while simultaneously furiously headbutting orcs to death, the GM can simply say No, starting and maintaining a bardic performance requires patience that's impossible while raging.

This GM would allow a character in a rage to start or continue an appropriate bardic performance

The player should be aware that it's a tough row to hoe, though. In addition to other issues like multiple ability score dependency,1 the huge—perhaps, I dare say, insurmountable—problem with playing, for example, a barbarian 3/bard 4 is that such a character will each day have only a total of 11 rounds of fight in him (and that's generously assuming a Con 16 and Cha 16).2 Level 7 is actually past the point when the wizard can cast an extended rope trick and everybody can rest in the extradimensional space in relative safety, so being good for only two fights per day (unless the group's really efficient) is fine at that point, but actually playing this character to that point would be a constant and—for me, anyway,—unpleasant war with an ever-ticking clock.

1 Such a character needs high Str, Con, and Cha, would like a high Dex and Int, and will regret a low Wis.
2 Yes, I'd put the extra level in bard. That means 2nd-level bard spells.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, this answer actually answers the question that was asked. The skald answer fixed a more core problem, but while that was a good solution for the OP it would be a poor response to someone searching for this particular interaction. \$\endgroup\$
    – lithas
    Apr 12, 2016 at 1:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage I must've looked at that a dozen times and never saw the duplicate while. Thank you so much. \$\endgroup\$ May 8, 2016 at 14:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you know what it's supposed to say, then your brain will often just ignore duplicates. Works with transposed letter typos too, as long as the first & last letter are correct. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    May 8, 2016 at 14:57

To rehash the answer in the comments (thank you lithas). There is a class that is a raging bard called a Skald.


By current RAW, there's nothing stopping anyone from using Inspire Courage while raging. That being said, I do not believe that it should be allowed per RAI. Barbarians have a very limited set of things they can do while raging and the prohibitions should, logically, extend to charisma-based skills and abilities (which would include performance).

Consider the following APG rage powers:

Reckless Abandon (Ex): Attack +1, AC -1 (no bonus to damage)

Inspire Ferocity (Ex): Use a move action to confer Reckless Abandon to all allies for # rounds equal to CHA bonus.

Note that rage powers are granted as class abilities every other level. So, 2 rage powers = 4 levels of barbarian, typically. Also, Reckless Abandon, interestingly, is a quasi-inverse of Combat Expertise, where the barbarian becomes more enraged and less concerned about personal safety (which makes good class sense), whereas Inspire Courage would require the Barbarian to retain the presence of mind to be able to act in a manner that consciously inspires others (questionable).

So, there are rage powers (and other classes/archetypes, like Bloodrager and Skald, that extend Barbarian). The descriptive text that allows for rules smithing and leaves a crack open to min-max with Inspire Courage is in error, in my opinion, and needs FAQ treatment by paizo.

Given the fact that there are defined barbarian abilities that require 4 levels and 2 rage powers, include a specific penalty to AC (that implies limited ability of the barbarian to manage multiple things while raging), why should a barbarian be able to take 1 level of bard and be able to use Inspire Courage while raging, trumping those 2 rage powers (with no penalty, an added damage bonus, and only a single class level)? As far as I'm concerned and with respect to the class description and rules as intended, they shouldn't.

Also, I will add that, depending on when the Bard/Barbarian is able to activate Inspire Courage, it might prove to be a very poor DPS choice in terms of party action economy, especially where the barbarian is sacrificing a full-round rage/power attack to use a standard action at the sudden onset of initiative to activate a performance for a +1/+1 bonus to allies for combats that only last a few rounds.


Either way, the buffs from bardic performance last for a while after you stop performing. Usually like 5 rounds I think, at least in pathfinder. You could just perform then stop and rage.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Please check out the tour for a quick intro to how we do things around here. This answer doesn't look like it currently answers the question; I recommend editing to do so. \$\endgroup\$
    – A_S00
    Oct 4, 2018 at 21:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ (It seems that in Pathfinder a typical bard takes the feat Lingering Performance to have her bardic music effects continue after she stops performing; you may be thinking of the 3.5 bard. Yes, Pathfinder nerfed the bard.) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 5, 2018 at 14:07

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